Explore Iceland’s rich history and culture through its churches with this guide to the most beautiful and intriguing churches in Iceland. With over 350 churches across the country, it may be surprising to know that Iceland is considered the sixth-most atheistic nation globally. Despite this, church attendance and religious traditions remain a prominent part of Icelandic culture. Take a tour of Iceland’s churches and discover the country’s fascinating history and architecture. From the monumental structures in Reykjavik to the tiny turf-roofed churches in North Iceland, this guide will introduce you to some of the most beautiful churches to visit in Iceland.
Discover the beauty of Bláa kirkjan, also known as the Blue Church, located in the picturesque fishing town of Seyðisfjörður in East Iceland. This visitor favorite is known for its pastel blue exterior and is considered one of the most beautiful churches in the country. Originally built in a different location, the church was moved to the heart of Seyðisfjörður in 1920. A fire in 1989 caused damage to the church and claimed a new pipe organ. During the summer, the church is open to visitors and is also a popular venue for artistic performances during the annual LungA arts festival in July. Don’t miss the opportunity to attend the Blue Church Summer Concerts while visiting this stunning church.
Heimaey Stave Church
The Stave Church, a magnificent wooden structure gifted to Iceland by Norway. Built in 2000 to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of Iceland’s conversion to Christianity, the Stave Church is a replica of the first church in Vestmannaeyjar. With its handcrafted timber and attention to detail, this church is a must-see for visitors to Iceland. Located on the grassy Skansinn area by the harbor, the Stave Church is open for mass and events such as weddings and is also used to commemorate the beginning and end of the Heimaey eruption.
Akureyri Church, also known as Akureyrakirkja, is a prominent feature in the town of Akureyri, Iceland. Designed by renowned architect Guðjón Samuelsson, the church is known for its striking design and beautiful stained glass windows. The windows have an interesting history – they were removed from Coventry Cathedral during World War II for fear of damage by bombs, and went missing before being unknowingly purchased for Akureyri Church. The church is a must-see destination for those visiting Akureyri, and offers a unique glimpse into the town’s history and architecture.
The Búdakirkja Church, also known as the Budir Black Church, is a popular destination for tourists and photography enthusiasts. Located on the southern end of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, this small wooden structure is one of Iceland’s few black churches, and its unique color stands out against the Icelandic landscape. Visitors can access the church during both the summer and winter, and it is particularly beautiful during sunset and when capturing the Northern Lights. It is also a popular location for weddings. However, visitors should be respectful of others and not hog the view, especially if there is a wedding taking place.
The Hofskirkja Church, located near Hof and Skaftafell National Park, is one of Iceland’s most unique churches due to its wooden and turf construction. The roof is made of turf that blends seamlessly into the surrounding earth, making it incredibly picturesque. When visiting Hofskirkja, it is important to treat the church and surrounding cemetery with respect. Climbing on the church or walking near or on the graves is prohibited. Visitors should be quiet and respectful at all times. This pretty turf church is a must-see stop on your journey through South Eastern Iceland and is a great way to break up a drive along the Ring Road.
Hvalsneskirkja Church is a must-see destination for visitors to Iceland, located just a stone’s throw from Reykjavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula. This stunning stone church, built in 1887, stands out among the country’s many wooden churches and is a great stop for those arriving or departing from Iceland. Inside, the church is decorated with driftwood collected from nearby beaches, adding to its unique charm. Make sure to take in the colorful steeple and pay your respects to this beautiful church as soon as you arrive in Iceland. Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or simply looking for a quick stop to break up your journey, Hvalsneskirkja Church is a great choice.
Sæbólskirkja is located near the picturesque Sæból beach and is a great spot for birdwatching. Visitors can also take a hike in the nearby mountains for even more breathtaking views. It’s a must-see destination for those looking to explore Iceland’s remote and rugged beauty. Despite its remote location, it’s worth the effort to make the journey to Sæbólskirkja and experience the unique charm of this Icelandic church.
Hallgrímskirkja Church, located in Reykjavik, Iceland, is the largest church in the country and a popular tourist destination. Designed by Iceland’s renowned architect Guðjón Samúelsson, it was named after 17th-century poet Hallgrímur Pétursson, and its design is inspired by Icelandic nature, including glaciers, mountains and lava formations. Construction took 41 years to complete and was finished in 1986. Inside, visitors can admire the pipe organ consisting of over 5,000 pipes, and take an elevator to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the city.
Iceland is home to many impressive churches, each with its own unique history, design, and characteristics. From the towering Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik to the remote Sæbólskirkja in the Westfjords, these churches offer a glimpse into Iceland’s architectural history and cultural heritage. Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or simply looking for beautiful and unique places to visit in Iceland, these churches are a must-see. With their picturesque locations and stunning designs, they are sure to leave a lasting impression. So, whether you’re planning a road trip around Iceland or just passing through, make sure to include a few of these churches on your itinerary for a truly unique and memorable experience.